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Water in the Regions

» Activities of the Regional Office for Latin America & the Caribbean (ROLAC)

» Activities of the Regional Office for West Asia (ROWA)

» Activities of the Regional Office for Europe (ROE)

» Activities of the Regional Office for Asia-Pacific (ROAP)

» Activities of the Regional Office for Africa (ROA)

Background of the water situation in Europe

ROEROE’s activities in the area of water are first and foremost focusing on the Black sea (revision of the Black sea LBS Protocol) and the Caspian (coordination of the implementation of the convention, including the development of Protocols on Emergency Response in cases of Oil incidents, Biodiversity, Land-based sources of pollution, and EIA in a transboundary context; promotion of legal and economic measures for sound environmental management, and preparation of the first meeting of the COP). Both sets of activities are undertaken under the umbrella of a multi-year UNDP GEF project, while the LBS work in the Caspian sea region also receives support from EU-TACIS.

ROE collaborates with the Secretariat of the International Committee for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR) in promoting a river basin management approach for the Tisza River. An environmental outlook of the river basin has been prepared and submitted to ICPDR.

Transboundary water related problems, in particular pollution risks from mining and other industrial activities, have been identified as priority areas of attention in all geographical areas (Central Asia; Southern Caucasus; South eastern Europe) of the UNEP/UNDP/OSCE Environment and Security Initiative. The river basins involved include the Aral Sea river basin and the Kura-Aras and Amu-Darya river basins. Future work in these areas will include environmental assessment (through GRID Arendal or GRID Geneva), or convening meetings, subcontracting and/or backstopping specific projects, and, where appropriate moderating or servicing negotiations.  

Together with ECE, the Secretariat of the ICPDR, the REC, WWF and others. ROE is assisting in exchanges and discussions to solve problems and mitigate risks of projects which impact on water bodies and their surroundings in the Danube-Carpathian region. 

ROE, through its Moscow office has also promoted and supported projects of the Russian Ministry for Natural Resources and the DUMA on aspects of environmental sound management of the Volga river basin. ROE participates in and contributes to selective meetings of the MAP.

ROE's work and involvement in water related activities fits in UNEP’s overall water policy and strategy. It has been and will in the future continue to be to a large extend catalytic, replying to requests or opportunities that arise, and relying on the expertise available in UNEP and partner agencies like ECE.

Framework Convention For The Protection Of The Marine Environment
of The Caspian Sea (Tehran Convention)

Under the umbrella of the Caspian Environment Programme (CEP), UNEP/ROE has been facilitating the development of the Framework Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Caspian Sea (Tehran Convention). The Caspian Sea is the largest land-locked body of water on earth. Situated in a natural depression, below mean sea level, it receives water from the Volga, Ural and the Kura rivers and numerous other freshwater inputs, but has no outlet to the world’s oceans. The isolation of the Caspian basin together with its climatic and salinity gradients have created a unique ecological system with some 400 species endemic to the Caspian waters. Today, many Caspian biotas are threatened by over-exploitation, habitat destruction and pollution. In recognition of the seriousness of the growing environmental problems the Caspian states approached the international community for assistance.

The Tehran Convention was signed in November 2003, following 8 years negotiation process driven under the auspices of UNEP/ROE, and entered into force on 12 August 2006. Being the first legally binding agreement signed by all five Caspian littoral states, the Tehran Convention is serving as an overarching legal instrument laying down the general requirements and institutional mechanism for environmental protection in the region. It is based on a number of underlying principles including the precautionary principle, the polluter pay principle and the principle of access to and exchange of information. The two major areas of concern are:
(i) prevention, reduction and control of pollution, and
(ii) protection, preservation and restoration of the marine environment. The Convention also includes provisions on EIA, as well as general obligations on environmental monitoring, research and development.

The Tehran Convention is a framework convention envisaging that concrete obligations of the parties will have to be formulated and implemented through additional binding instruments in form of protocols. In line with its mandate as the interim Secretariat to the Tehran Convention, UNEP/ROE has been facilitating the development of priority protocols on Biodiversity, EIA in Transboundary Context, Land Based Sources of Pollution [and Activities], and Emergency Response in Case of Oil Incidents. Since 2004, three rounds of regional negotiations have been organized for each protocol allowing the Caspian Governments to rapidly advance the consultation process. Considering the advanced stage of the negotiations it is hoped that the four priority protocols can be finalized during 2007 allowing for the protocols’ signature at the second Conference of the Parties, preliminary scheduled for 2008. At the forthcoming First Conference of the Parties, preliminary scheduled for May 2007, Baku, Azerbaijan, the parties to the Tehran Convention are expected to take a decision on a number of key issues including, Rules of Procedure, Financial Rules and Convention institutional arrangements.

Under the umbrella of the Caspian Environment Programme, UNEP/ROE, in close cooperation with the UNEP/GPA office, is currently assisting the Caspian Governments in developing national GPA strategies focusing on a rapid assessment of pollution in coastal areas and addressing specific causes of environmental degradation or threats from land-based activities. The final outcome of this exercise is expected mid 2007.

The Caspian Environment Programme (CEP) was agreed in 1995 following a joint mission to the region by UNDP, the World Bank and UNEP. The programme was officially launched in 1998 as a comprehensive long-term strategy for the protection and management of the Caspian environment. Up to date the main financial support to the programme has been provided by the GEF, the EU and the private sector. Under the CEP, a Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis (TDA) and a Strategic Action Program (SAP) have been developed, identifying a number of pending environmental problems in the Caspian region, requiring immediate actions. As most of them are of transboundary nature, they cannot be overcome unilaterally but rather through an appropriate cooperation regime among all Caspian littoral states. Further information on the Caspian Environment Programme Website .